Thursday, May 26

Alexia Putellas and Lionel Messi, winners of the 2021 Ballon d’Or | Golden Ball


Alexia Putellas and Lionel Messi were crowned the 2021 Ballon d’Or winners during a glittering ceremony in Paris.

Putellas, who was an integral part of the team that won the Barcelona treble with 18 goals and 12 assists in the First Division, scored in a 4-0 win in the Champions League final against WSL champions Chelsea, and was named to the tournament’s team of the season.

The midfielder has already been named UEFA Player of the Year for her stellar performances and has followed last season with a strong start to this campaign, including a four-minute hat-trick against Valencia.

Putellas edged out Barcelona teammate Jennifer Hermoso, Chelsea’s Sam Kerr and Arsenal striker Vivianne Miedema to lift the trophy. The Chelsea trio of Pernille Harder, Jessie Fleming and Fran Kirby were seventh, ninth and tenth respectively.

The 27-year-old follows in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg and Megan Rapinoe, who won the award in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

Putellas said: “I am very excited, it is a very special moment. I would like to start by thanking all my colleagues, especially my current [Barcelona] Teammates. For me it is a collective success ”.

Messi won a seventh Ballon d’Or title, beating Robert Lewandowski for the award. The Bayern Munich striker finished second after being a huge favorite to win last year’s award only because the ceremony was canceled due to Covid-19.

Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski accepts the award's Forward of the Year, but was second in the Ballon d'Or vote
Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski accepts the Forward of the Year award, but was second in the Ballon d’Or vote. Photograph: Benoît Tessier / Reuters

Messi claimed his seventh title, two ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo in the process, and his first as a Paris Saint-Germain player following his summer move from Barcelona. The 34-year-old won an inaugural Copa América title with Argentina this year and was also La Liga’s top scorer before his emotional departure.

“It is amazing to be here again. Two years ago I thought it was the last time. Winning the Copa América was key, “said Messi. “It is a special year for me with this Copa América title. It meant a lot to win at the Maracana Stadium and I was very happy to celebrate with the people of Argentina.

“I don’t know if it is the best year of my life, I have had a long career. But it was special with the title with Argentina after the difficult times and the criticism ”.

Chelsea’s Jorginho finished third after a remarkable year in which he helped Italy achieve glory at the delayed Euro 2020 after lifting the Champions League trophy in May. Chelsea were named team of the year after their memorable 1-0 win against Manchester City in Porto.

Among the top 10, Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante was fifth on the Ballon d’Or list, Manchester United’s Ronaldo sixth, Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah seventh and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne eighth.

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Barcelona’s teenage midfielder Pedri, who recently agreed to a long-term contract extension that includes a 1 billion euro (£ 846 million) buyout clause, was named the winner of the Kopa Trophy, Best Sub-player. 21 of 2021. The 19-year-old was awarded the award by former Ballon d’Or and World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro. England’s Jude Bellingham missed the Kopa award after an impressive season with Borussia Dortmund.

Gianluigi Donnarumma claimed the Yashin Trophy after the Italian goalkeeper was named player of the tournament at Euro 2020.


www.theguardian.com

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